“Where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”

~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Channel Surfing. It isn’t an activity I take up on any kind of a semi-regular basis. As a single working mother I have little time to sit and aimlessly flip through television channels full of nothingness. Not to mention, technology has seen fit to help me out and, courtesy of my DVR, I rarely watch live TV as I record everything and jump through commercial advertisements substantially dropping my actual viewing time. Alas, for some unknown reason I found myself surfing through the void this weekend where I inadvertently stumbled across ‘Life is Wild’ – a television show that caught my attention long enough for me to linger and then brought feelings of agonizing heartsickness as I continued to watch.

It has been thirteen long years since I have had the joy of setting foot on the African continent where I was raised. I am heartsick. Oh, I will occasionally watch something on ‘The Travel Channel’ or ‘The Discovery Channel’ that makes me feel a little homesick as well. However, I have usually planned to watch a show and know that I am mentally stable enough at that time to deal with a little reminiscence. I was not primed for stumbling across this television show of an American family living in South Africa where the children attended an international school. Granted, I grew up in Kenya and I went to a missionary affiliated boarding school … but the similarities were enough to bring on a severe sickness of the heart.

My heart is still in Africa. It always has been and I assume that it will always remain there. If I had the opportunity I would there now. My children know. They love Africa and they have yet to visit. They brag to their friends and their teachers about my upbringing and the “cool stuff” we have around the apartment.

Maybe someday I will be able to share my Africa with them.

Until then, I might have them watch this silly little show that has only small parallels to my own childhood.

I am an African
Not because I was born there
But because my heart beats with Africa’s
I am an African
Not because my skin is black
But because my mind is engaged by Africa
I am an African
Not because I live on its soil
But because my soul is at home in Africa

When Africa weeps for her children
My cheeks are stained with tears
When Africa honors her elders
My head is bowed in respect
When Africa mourns for her victims
My hands are joined in prayer
When Africa celebrates her triumphs
My feet are alive with dancing

I am an African
For her blue skies take my breath away
And my hope for the future is bright
I am an African
For her people greet me as family
And teach me the meaning of community
I am an African
For her wildness quenches my spirit
And brings me closer to the source of life

When the music of Africa beats in the wind
My blood pulses to its rhythm
And I become the essence of sound
When the colours of Africa dazzle in the sun
My senses drink in its rainbow
And I become the palette of nature
When the stories of Africa echo round the fire
My feet walk in its pathways
And I become the footprints of history

I am an African
Because she is the cradle of our birth
And nurtures an ancient wisdom
I am an African
Because she lives in the world’s shadow
And bursts with a radiant luminosity
I am an African
Because she is the land of tomorrow
And I recognise her gifts as sacred

~Wayne Visser (2005)


  1. Yes! I have never been to Africa myself but i truly believe it is the place of my roots, not because I am black - I'm not - but it is the cradle of humanity. So thanks you for this post which expresses much of what I feel about that place.

  2. Thanks for posting my poem. I'm glad it resonated with you. There is a saying that "Africa gets into your blood" and I certainly feel its heat pulsing through my veins. All the best, Wayne.


"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman


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